Sunday, November 12, 2006

Honor of Humanity Part 12 - Righteousness Part II

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on his apologetics series on The Honor of Humanity Part 12 on 22th October 2006.
Note: There is a repeat of previous topic on Righteousness (part 7) so my transcript focuses on the part he did not preach earlier, which is on the righteousness relating to saving grace.

God considers Abraham, Job, Noah and Lot as righteous people. Confucianism contrasts a gentleman with a bad person. But the Bible contrasts a righteous person with a sinner. The righteousness meant in the Scriptures is related to salvation. It is the righteousness that surpasses good works.

It is not just about comparing a good with a bad person. Before God, a righteous person has a special status. We have lost our original righteousness, so there is a need to impute God’s righteousness upon us. The only way is through Jesus Christ.

The justification by faith consists of both passive and active righteousness. On the passive side, God no longer sees him as a sinner. On the active side, God imputes His righteousness unto us and with His righteousness in us we are now able to live a righteous life.

What kind of person is a righteous person? (These 5 points are similar to the transcript on part 7 on righteousness)

1. A person who is honest, genuine, faithful and loyal. He has integrity and is not a person who is always changing his mind.
2. A person who is just in his treatment towards all people and not a respecter of men.
3. A person who fills his life with the truth. We have all kinds of needs, but which ones do we prioritize? Greek wisdom puts reason as the guide to our emotion and sexual desires. However, this reason is fallen and still needs guidance. God’s Revelation should be our ultimate guide.
4. A person who can stand against sin and is directed by the will of God.
5. A person who sternly demands of himself to live a holy life.

Lot is considered a righteous person in that he grieved with sorrow towards the sin of the people around him. A righteous person would not delight in people’s sufferings or in exposing their sins. The way Joseph dealt with Mary’s pregnancy by wanting to divorce her quietly instead of exposing her to public disgrace showed his graciousness.

Christian receives not only the natural righteousness from the image of God as common grace, but also receives supernatural righteousness from saving grace.

Jesus said that unless our righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisee, we cannot enter the Kingdom of God. What righteousness does the Pharisee have? They do their best to fulfill the law but are centered on their own glory and they trust in their own righteousness. They represent the people who trust in their own religion and good works.

Because we are made in the image of God, we already have the image of God’s righteousness in us. But sin has stained us so this image has been marred. We need to be made righteous again in Jesus Christ. This is the righteousness that surpasses that of the Pharisee.

Our righteousness is like fallen leaves and filthy rags before God. We try to solve sin with method of culture, that is, by covering up our sin. So Adam sewed fig leaves to cover himself. God will not accept it. God asked Adam to come out. God used another method. He killed an animal and made a garment for Adam to cover his shame. We need to get rid of our own religion and receive God’s salvation.

We may use a lot of cultural accomplishments to cover our sins but it would only last for a while. The true solution is to admit that our culture cannot solve our problem and receive God’s salvation through the death of Jesus Christ. Then we will have forgiveness and a new code of righteousness.

Through Christ’s righteousness imputed unto us, we can live a holy life and produce fruits of righteousness that is acceptable to God.


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